Robert Farrar Capon on Universalism

Best quote I’ve read to date on universalism, and beautifully sums up what I have been trying to describe for the last for years and usually get someone mad at me.

“I am and I am not a universalist. I am one if you are talking about what God in Christ has done to save the world. The Lamb of God has not taken away the sins of some – of only the good, or the cooperative, or the select few who can manage to get their act together and die as perfect peaches. He has taken away the sins of the world – of every last being in it – and he has dropped them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. On the cross, he has shut up forever on the subject of guilt: “There is therefore now no condemnation. . . .” All human beings, at all times and places, are home free whether they know it or not, feel it or not, believe it or not.

“But I am not a universalist if you are talking about what people may do about accepting that happy-go-lucky gift of God’s grace. I take with utter seriousness everything that Jesus had to say about hell, including the eternal torment that such a foolish non-acceptance of his already-given acceptance must entail. All theologians who hold Scripture to be the Word of God must inevitably include in their work a tractate on hell. But I will not – because Jesus did not – locate hell outside the realm of grace. Grace is forever sovereign, even in Jesus’ parables of judgment. No one is ever kicked out at the end of those parables who wasn’t included in at the beginning.”

–Robert Farrar Capon

Best line – But I will not – because Jesus did not – locate hell outside the realm of grace.


  • That is fantastic.
    Thanks for posting that Nathan.

  • That is great. What publication does the quote come from?

  • actually found it on his wikipedia article


  • I’m not sure I understand what he’s saying in the latter paragraph.

  • someone else pointed out this line too

    No one is ever kicked out at the end of those parables who wasnt included in at the beginning.

    My guess (or at least what I would believe) is that no one who is included in the original part of the Story (creation) is ever kicked out in the end?

    Maybe i’m wrong, any ideas? I just copied the whole quote that I found.

  • My best take on that ending bit would be that in order to be excluded from grace, you must have first been included.

    Therefore, it would take a rejection on your part to find yourself outside of Grace, you can’t simply be there by accident of birth, time, space or knowledge.

  • The idea of being “outside of grace” is something that makes less and less sense to me every time I think about it. If grace is undeserved, is it possible to find yourself outside of it?

  • The quote is actually taken from Capon’s trilogy on the Parables called Kingdom, Grace, Judgment, hence his allusion to the Parables at the end.

    It’s a great book by the way.

  • I love Capon so much I wish I could kiss his sweet face.

Join the Discussion